Hurricane Patricia, viewed from the International Space Station at night. Image Source: Mashable
Hurricane Patricia spun its way into history on Friday as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. Yet it didn’t come with catastrophic damage or legislation-changing death tolls after it made landfall in Mexico, and there’s been little follow-up news since the peak of the storm. That stands in sharp contrast to what the U.S. saw after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, and there are a few reasons why.
First and foremost: location matters. Patricia made landfall near Cuixmala, a town with very few people — not nearby tourist hub Puerto Vallarta or the port city of Manzanillo, which reduced the storm’s potential to produce large, disaster-related losses.
Likewise, while hurricane Patricia hit Mexico as a Category hawkins 5 hurricane, its winds didn’t go very far. The highest speeds only extended around 15 miles on either side of the storm’s center, and hurricane force winds reached a mere 35 miles from the eye of the storm. Compare that with Hurricane Katrina’s winds, which pushed on New Orleans at somewhere between Category 1 and Category 2 speeds, but had a broader reach.
Second: location, again. In addition to avoiding population centers, Hurricane Patricia also advanced onto mountainous terrain that quickly weakened the system.
Third: the storm was fast. Hurricane Patricia didn’t stay in one place long enough to wreak the same havoc as other devastating storms that have struck North America. “The storm was moving fast enough at landfall – about 20 mph – that these heavy rains did not stay in place long enough to generate the kinds of devastating floods we’ve seen in the past from Mexican hurricanes,” Jess Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground told Salon.
In short, the storm would have been much more damaging had it landed in a location with an urban center such as New Orleans or the Eastern Seaboard. The following pictures hurricane patricia plays havoc jennifer hawkins tequila launch say the rest.
Scott Kelly’s view of Hurricane Patricia from the International Space Station. Image Source: Twitter
Hurricane Patricia compared to Hurricane Katrina. Image Source: TIME
Hurricane Patricia as it makes landfall in Mexico. Image Source: Flickr
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